- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Internet chess community marked a major milestone this month with the publication of TWIC 1000.

That’s not a new operating system or multiplayer fantasy game, but the 1,000th edition of the remarkable “The Week in Chess,” an amazingly comprehensive weekly compendium of news and games from all corners of the world that Englishman Mark Crowther first began compiling in 1994. For chess fans (and content-starved chess columnists), the Web hierarchy works something like this: Wikipedia can be useful and Google is nice, but TWIC
(http://www.theweekinchess.com) is indispensable.

Where once it might take weeks and even months for tournament results and game scores to become available from even the top events, TWIC pioneered and has kept up an astonishing clearinghouse for chess news, and not just on the headline events like world championship matches.

Issue 1,000 put out Jan. 6, for example, included not just the results (and 270 games) from the recent Hastings Classic, but also reports and games from events such as the 19th Bosnjaci Open in Croatia, the 2nd Gurgaon Open in India, an update on the Australian Open now underway in Melbourne and the latest standings from the Dutch League team matches. The edition includes a database of 1,707 recent games, all coded by opening and number of moves, and is actually thin by Mr. Crowther’s standards; some weeks, TWIC will have 3,000 games or more played around the world for fans to study and enjoy.

Backed for much of the past 20 years by the London Chess Center and English GM Malcolm Pein, the indefatigable Mr. Crowther is now operating independently. He vows to press on, though TWIC’s future will depend in part on how much the chess community is willing to underwrite his efforts going forward. There’s a PayPal link at the TWIC site to contribute, and I’d argue there are few much better uses of your spare cash if you’re a fan of the game.

To mark the anniversary, we offer games from the very first and the very latest TWICs. TWIC 1, dated Sept. 17, 1994, contained only a few dozen games, but offered a preview of the upcoming (now defunct) Professional Chess Association semifinal matches and games from early rounds of International Interpolis knockout tournament played the week before in the Dutch city of Tilburg. One highlight of Tilburg was a rare defeat for former world champion Anatoly Karpov, who uncharacteristically found himself on the wrong end of a brilliant combination engineered by Bosnian GM Bojan Kurajica. Mr. Kurajica as White gets a slight edge in this Classical Queen’s Indian Defense after 12. Ne2 Bd6 13. Ne5 c5?! (premature, as White proves better placed to exploit the more open position) 14. f3 Ng5 15. Ng3 cxd4 16. exd4 g6 17. Qd2 Ne6 18. Qh6, and White’s pieces hover menacingly around the Black king.

With the knights apparently standing guard, Mr. Karpov’s fabled sense of danger at the board deserts him for once on 18…Rc8 19. Rxc8 Qxc8? (see diagram; Black walks into a stunning combination based on the potential fork of his king and queen — mandatory was 19…Bxc8 20. Re1 Qe7 21. Qh4, with a slight edge for White) 20. Nf5! Qd8 (gxf5 21. Qxf6 Bxe5 [Qd8 22. Qxf5 Qh4 23. Ng4 is pleasant for White] 22. Qxf5! Ng5 23. dxe5 Qxf5 24. Bxf5 Ne6 25. Rd1) 21. Qg7+!! Nxg7 22. Nh6+ Kh8 23. Nexf7+ Rxf7 24. Nxf7+ Kg8 25. Nxd8, and the attempt to keep the knight trapped with 25…Ba8 is blocked by 26. Rc1 Nge8 27. Rc8 Nc7 28. Nb7+ Bf8 29. Rxc7, winning.

White emerges an exchange and a pawn to the good after his queen sacrifice and the ex-champ is given no opening to generate complications in the ensuing play. After 40. axb5 Bxb5 41. Bxf4, White wins comfortably after 41…Bxf4 42. Rc5 Be3+ 43. Kh2 Bd7 44. Rxd5; Mr. Karpov resigned.

As mentioned, a big part of TWIC’s value is the more obscure and out-of-the-way events that Mr. Crowther includes. One could track the rise of China as a global chess powerhouse or the emergence of current world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway (who was not yet four when the first TWIC issue appeared) just from the vast TWIC weekly collections of games over the years.

A prime example of a minor gem that might once have been overlooked comes in TWIC 1000, a game between Swedish master Carl Cederstam-Barsk and compatriot Martin Jogstad, a Class A player, played at the Rilton Cup in Stockholm last month. It’s not a masterpiece, perhaps, but the lower-rated Mr. Jogstad’s queen sacrifice wins a small slice of immortality through Mr. Crowther’s website.

Out of a QGD Semi-Slav Defense, Jogstad as Black gets a solid Stonewall center and after 16. f4 Ndf6 17. Bd2 a5, one of those blocked positions arises in which it may not be an exaggeration to say the first player to get in a pawn break on the g-file will win.

White opens the door with 22. Ng1?! (Be2 Ng4 23. Nc1 g5 24. Nd3 kept the balance) g5 (here it comes) 23. Nh3 gxf4 24. exf4 Kh8 25. Nc1 Rg8 26. Ba6 (not a strong post, but White’s pieces are starting to get in each other’s way as he tries to organize a defense) Bg4, with the idea of 27…Nh5 28. Nf2 Bxf4 29.Bxf4 Nxf4+ 30. gxf4 Be2+, winning.

White is already on the run when Black makes his stunning offer: 28. Kxf2 Ne4+ 29. Kg2 (Ke3 e5 30. dxe5 [fxe5 Qg5+ 31. Kd3 Nf2 mate] d4+ 31. Kd3 Nf2+ 32. Kc4 Qd5 is mate, while 29. Ke1 Qe8 again sets up the killer break e6-e5) Qh4!! 30. gxh4 (generously allowing Black his brilliancy; White loses more prosaically after 30. Be1 Bh3+ 31. Kf3 [Kg1 Nxg3 32. Bxg3 Rxg3+! 33. hxg3 Qxg3+ 34. Qg2 Qxg2 mate] Qg4+ 32. Ke3 Bxf4+ 33. gxf4 Bg2 34. Rg1 Qf3 mate) Be2+, and White resigns ahead of 31. Kh3 Nf2 mate.

Speaking personally, I probably could have gotten out a weekly column all these years without TWIC, but I would not have liked to try. Thanks, Mark, and may TWIC thrive another 20 years.

Kurajica-Karpov, Interpolis International Tournament, Tilbrg, Netherlands, September 1994

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 b6 4. c4 Bb7 5. Bd3 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. b3 Nbd7 10. Bb2 Ne4 11. Rc1 Ndf6 12. Ne2 Bd6 13. Ne5 c5 14. f3 Ng5 15. Ng3 cxd4 16. exd4 g6 17. Qd2 Ne6 18. Qh6 Rc8 19. Rxc8 Qxc8 20. Nf5 Qd8 21. Qg7+ Nxg7 22. Nh6+ Kh8 23. Nexf7+ Rxf7 24. Nxf7+ Kg8 25. Nxd8 Bc8 26. Nc6 a5 27. Re1 Kf8 28. Bc1 Ne6 29. Be3 Bd7 30. Ne5 Be8 31. Bh6+ Ke7 32. Be3 Ba3 33. Re2 Nd7 34. Nxd7 Bxd7 35. h4 Bd6 36. a4 Kd8 37. h5 gxh5 38. Bxh7 Nf4 39. Rc2 b5 40. axb5 Bxb5 41. Bxf4 Black resigns.

Cederstam-Barsk-Jogstad, Rilton Cup, Stockholm, December 2013

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 a6 7. b3 Bb4 8. Bd2 b5 9. c5 Ba5 10. a4 b4 11. Na2 Ne4 12. Bc1 Rb8 13. Bd3 f5 14. O-O Bc7 15. Ne1 O-O 16. f4 Ndf6 17. Bd2 a5 18. Nf3 h6 19. g3 Bd7 20. Kg2 Be8 21. Rh1 Bh5 22. Ng1 g5 23. Nh3 gxf4 24. exf4 Kh8 25. Nc1 Rg8 26. Ba6 Bg4 27. Nf2 Nxf2 28. Kxf2 Ne4+ 29. Kg2 Qh4 30. gxh4 Be2+ White resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.